Happy New VR

Happy New Year from London!

Welcome to 2018 everyone! I think this will be another exciting year for VR with some new exciting developments, though maybe with more consolidation than 2017. In a time honoured tradition, I thought that New Year’s Day would be a time to risk making a few predictions. I’ve asked some friends, who you will have met during the specialisation, Mel Slater, Frederic Fol Leymarie and Harry Brenton, to offer their predictions. They agreed on quite a few things, so I have combined a lot of their predictions.

1. Whole body tracking will be made more ubiquitous.

We will see more experiences that involve movement of the whole body, not just the hands. The main driver will be the VIVE trackers, but there are other full body tracking suits available. Full body tracking will open up new forms of embodied experiences. At the start it wil be reserved for standalone experiences (trade shows, installations) but by the end of 2018 we may see it in some comsumer home games of software [Mel and Harry]

2. Social VR

There will be more social VR applications released, and they will become a very important part of VR adoption. MMORPGs will grow in popularity and redefine social experiences — to watch: Sansar (from Second Life creators) , Worlds Adrift from Bossa studios) and established brands (Star Wars, Warcraft etc). [Mel, Harry]

3. Applications of VR

In terms of specialised areas of application, I favor (continued) growth in particular in:
 — education
 — nanoscale apps (such as for the biomedical)
 — training where immersion in critical situation is key (e.g. a fire in a building, an area where AR+VR could mix well)
 — mesoscale apps (such as for climate science, weather, storms, crisis management)
 — research (e.g. on behaviors, health, autism, …, esp. where avatars are a basic element)

[Frederic]

4. No Killer App

There was the idea that games would be one or the killer app. and that failed to happen (for a number of reasons, including a real misunderstanding of the medium by games makers) and is unlikely to happen any time soon. [Frederic]

5. Web and Cloud VR

2018 will see the growth of Web and Cloud based VR, which will be a much easier distribution platform. Unity will (finally) release the ability to publish to WebVR. Amazon’s Sumerian will develop into something interesting. [Marco]

6. Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality will become an important commercial presence, and VR vendors will respond by trying to differentiate the two and concentrating on areas that that distinctive to VR. Microsoft will continue to push its Windows MR platform and apply might follow up its ARKit annoucement with an amazing new AR product. Magic Leap will cause a lot of excitement, but won’t be released fully in 2018. [Mel, Frederic]

7. Auto-Stereo displays

There is also the possibility that VR moves away (again) from the use of headset as the mainplatform, and back to (auto)stereoscopic displays (displays which allow you to see in 3D without glasses), perhaps not in 2018, but later. [Frederic]

8. Valve will win on content

Valve will realise some freekin’ awesome games that become the gold standard for demos (The Lab still rules and it was released in April 2016 !). [Harry]

9. VR Backlash

There will be the beginnings of a backlash against VR in the media. We have already entered a trough of disillusionment (general shakeout — some well funded startups will implode), with the initial (excessive) hype not being lived up to instantly and media claiming the death of VR, but by the end of the year we may will move into slope of enlightenment in which people are making more realistic assessments of the impact of VR. More seriously the media will start talking about the (real and imagined) negatives of VR leading to a moral panic. [Mel, Harry]

10. Consolidation

I think VR (the latest generation (Occulus, Vive, etc.)) is now on a more regular path and I would imagine growth in specialised sectors
away from the initial frenzy (peak). I think we are entering a consolidation phase once more.The main difference with previous such periods being that there has been significant investments made and the tech has progressed significantly in the past few years. There is inertia and we should keep seeing progress being made in 2018 and this might lead us to a new growth period towards 2020 (at which point I would expect AR to be mature enough to have disrupted the VR sector). [Frederic]

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